“I was there,” the text next to the picture of NYC firefighter Robert Keiley, who’s holding a picture of World Trade Center ruins, says. There’s only one problem: he wasn’t.
Keiley’s hazel eyes and rugged face are featured in a new ad for the law firm Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern, which is trying to increase participants in its class-action lawsuit against the city in the wake of post-9/11 health issues. “I was there,” the ad reads, “and now Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern is there for me.”
But here’s the thing: Keiley didn’t join the FDNY until 2004, three yeas after the attacks. And he’s furious his image popped up in the ad, despite posing for it as part of a modeling side job.
“It’s an insult to the Fire Department. It’s an insult to all the families who lost people that day,” Keiley, 34, who used to be a cop, told the New York Post.
“It makes me look like I’m cashing in on 9/11, saying I was there even though I was never there, and that I’m sick and possibly suing, trying to get a chunk of money,” he added.
But there’s also another problem. In the original photo shoot, Keiley was never holding a picture of the World Trade Center. Rather, he posed with a firefighter’s helmet — the picture was later photoshopped in.
“I had friends who died on 9/11,” Keiley, who’s considering a lawsuit against the firm, told the Post. “How can I look their families in the eye if they see this picture, thinking I’m trying to make money on their [loved ones'] deaths? They’d probably think I’m a scumbag.”
To be fair, the ad does have some fine print at the bottom: “This is an actor portrayal of a potential Zadroga claimant,” which refers to 9/11 workers who could receive settlement money under the federal James Zadroga Act.
A representative for the ad agency behind the picture said it didn’t do anything wrong.
“He really signed his rights away,” Kim Tracey, an account director at the agency Barker/DZP told the Post. “[The release] allows for use in ads, promotional usage, really anything you want.”
Megyn Kelly debated the topic on her Monday segment of “Kelly’s Court:”
The controversy is reminiscent of another picture that sparked outrage in New York City last month. Then, a pro-life group used a stock image of a young black girl on a billboard that said, “The Most Dangerous Place for an African American is in the Womb.” The ad agency behind the billboard eventually pulled the ad.
What do you think?